by (@BHSmithNYC)

For Those Who Served + Rocked We Salute You: 20 Musicians Who Were In The Military

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You would think that the rigorous discipline of the military life and the unrestrained freedom of the music world would be at odds, but as it turns out, a number of rockers, rappers and musicians of all kinds have signed up and done their duty in defense of their countries. Some, like crooner Tony Bennett and former-Nirvana and Soundgarden member Jason Everman, have been on the frontlines of armed combat at its worst, while others like MC Hammer and Elvis Presley have served during times of relative peace. And, of course, given their natural inclination to indulge their creative impulses, guitar greats like Jimi Hendrix and Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead were never really cut out for Army life in the first life and were discharged before finishing their tours of duty. But on this Veteran’s Day, it’s important to acknowledge their contributions and those of all people who serve or have served in keeping their countries safe and protecting these freedoms which we hold so dear.

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Kanye West Sort Of Freestyles For Two Minutes On Ice- T’s Art Of Rap Documentary

Kanye West sort of freestyles for two minutes in Ice-T‘s Something From Nothing: Art of Rap documentary. And by “sort of” we mean it’s presented as a freestyle, but we doubt the rap was off the top of the dome. More on that later.

Back in June when Art of Rap aired in theaters, we shared the hilarious story of Ice-T’s favorite moment in the film being Rev Run’s retell how it felt to be on top. Let’s just say that story included syrup dripping into a bathtub. If you missed a slew of rap’s greats talk about the art of rap, you’re in luck. This Thursday at 9:00 PM ET/PT, VH1 will air the documentary in full. Kanye snapping is not something you want to miss. Read more…

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When Asked About Guns In The Wake Of Dark Knight Tragedy Ice-T Said He’ll Turn In His Guns When Everyone Else Does

Ice T on guns

Ice-T wears and has worn many hats. Among those fedoras and skullies is the controversial hat that once led to President George H.W. Bush speaking out against Ice T’s 1992 “Cop Killer.” Amidst the Aurora, Colorado tragedy where a gunman killed 12 people on the opening night of Dark Knight, Ice-T spoke out publicly against increased gun control legislation. In an interview with London’s Channel 4 Ice-T said the United States is based on guns. He added that if people want to kill they will do so without guns. “If somebody wants to kill people, they don’t need a gun to do it,” he said. “You can strap explosives on your body. They do that all the time.” Read more…

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Ice-T’s Favorite Part In Art Of Rap Documentary Is Rev Run’s Story Of Sitting In The Bathtub While Syrup Dripped In

Ice-T wants rap to be respected as an art form. As director of the documentary Something From Nothing: Art of Rap, Ice-T interviewed 52 rappers and had 35 more in queue. It seems that rap’s global influence is undeniable, but that doesn’t mean the genre is respected in the way jazz or Rock is. As Ice-T put it, people think rapping is easy and anyone can do it. Through the Art of Rap Ice-T uses a legion of rappers to showcase the intricacies, complexities and technique of the music that formed in the late 70s. Read more…

by (@unclegrambo)

Uprising: Hip-Hop & The L.A. Riots: The Spotify Playlist

Uprising: Hip-Hop & The L.A. Riots premieres on VH1 tonight at 9 p.m. ET/PT, and is the latest entry in VH1′s award-winning Rock Docs series. The documentary film, narrated by Snoop Dogg, takes a look back at the riots that occurred in the wake of the Rodney King verdict exactly twenty years ago this week, and the role that hip-hop played in both predicting and ultimately chronicling the tension between the residents of South Central and the police.

The film premiered in Los Angeles last week, and our colleagues over at VH1 News got some 1:1 time with Arsenio Hall before the film began. He detailed for us a story of how Ice Cube passed along a cassette tape to him with an early version of “F*** The Police” on it, which led Arsenio to (ultimately unsuccessfully) lobby his corporate bosses to book N.W.A. on his eponymous talk show. It’s a fascinating anecdote, and one that reflects a time that’s increasingly hard to remember, a time when hip-hop hadn’t yet fully made its way into mainstream American culture.

We also put together a Spotify playlist for you below, Music from Uprising: Hip-Hop & The L.A. Riots, which contains most of the music that you’ll hear in the documentary film tonight, songs like N.W.A.’s aforementioned “F*** Tha Police,” Ice Cube’s “We Had To Tear This Mothaf***a Up” and Dr. Dre’s “The Day The N***** Took Over,” among others.

Read more…

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Bracket Madness: Are You Riding for the Ladies Man LL Cool J or Heavyweight Champ Rakim?

Is it really fair to put anyone against Rakim? If there is one consistent name that appears on lists of greatest MCs of all time, hands down, it’s Rakim. We think his contender LL Cool J is up for the challenge. LL may be acting more than rapping these days, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t still have bars. I shudder just thinking of “Second Round KO” directed at Canibus or “To Da Break of Dawn” aiming shots at Kool Moe Dee, Ice-T and MC Hammer. He’s sold 7.5 million albums with five top 40 hits on the Billboard charts. He’s known for popular tracks like “I Need Love” that show a glimpse of his softer side, and “Mama Said Knock You Out” that solidifies his toughness. Do not get it twisted. LL will wax you on wax. Get it?

Rakim is a legendary emcee. Lyrically, he’s so amazing you don’t feel comfortable calling him a rapper — only emcee will suffice. Not only was his debut album with friend Eric B deemed a classic, Paid in Full was considered the greatest hip-hop album of all time by MTV. There’s no sense in even naming the rappers he’s influenced because it’s pretty much everyone worth their rap credentials. Steve Huey of Allmusic.com said, “Rakim is near-universally acknowledged as one of the greatest MCs —perhaps the greatest— of all-time within the hip-hop community.” That said, whereas LL became a household name, Rakim never reached massive mainstream success. With Eric B., he released four albums, only completing three solo projects. He took a 10 year hiatus between his second (The Master) and third (The Seventh Seal) album. He only sold two million records in his over 20 year career. But what Rakim lacked in commercial success he makes up in talent.

This one’s going to be juicy. Vote to advance your favorite Yo! MTV Raps era emcee to the next round. Voting closes on Wednesday at 11 a.m. ET. Read more…

by (@unclegrambo)

Exclusive Interview: Ice-T Puts Planet Rock Target “Fake” Rick Ross On Blast, Nicknames Him “Identity Crisis”

“Don’t start that article with none of that Ice-T disses Rick Ross bullsh*t,” Ice-T tells me, mere moments after dissing Rick Ross.

The scene was the 11th floor of the Paley Center for Media, roughly an hour or so before last night’s world premiere screening of VH1′s latest Rock Doc, Planet Rock: The Story of Hip Hop and the Crack Generation. The green room was filled with some of the larger-than-life personalities that make this powerful movie what it is: Notorious crack kingpin turned socially conscious rapper Azie Faison (pictured above), cultural critic and highly regarded journalist Nelson George, and the O.G. himself, Ice-T (I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Ice-T’s bombshell wife, Coco, was typing away on her Blackberry while sitting on a couch on the other side of the room). Because Ice was very forthcoming with his thoughts, I’m going to honor his request and put his scathing words for the likes of Rick Ross, Lil Wayne and Kanye West on hold for a bit (but don’t worry, we’ll get to ‘em quick).

Planet Rock is the first documentary film to focus on the undeniable effect that the crack cocaine “epidemic” of the 1980s had on the world of hip-hop, and vice versa. After watching the doc and its strikingly honest interviews with former gangbangers turned music superstars like Snoop Dogg, B-Real of Cypress Hill, and RZA and Raekwon of the Wu-Tang Clan, you really get a vivid picture of not only how these worlds were intertwined from the outset, but also the incredible fallout that resulted when crack was introduced into these neighborhoods (which, some allege, was the direct result of C.I.A. intervention). Even Ice-T, who was out of the game when his single “6 In The Mornin” hit big in 1986, was running with some of the crack game’s biggest players.

Freeway Rick is my friend, he came to my wedding,” Ice-T tells me when I ask him if he ever crossed paths with Freeway Ricky Ross, who has a starring role in the documentary and was the crack game equivalent of Scarface‘s Tony Montana in mid-eighties era Los Angeles. “I knew all those cats, I grew up with them. People would ask me if Freeway Rick was a drug dealer, and I would tell them that I never saw him deal drugs. How can you say that’s what someone is if you never see it personally?”

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